Forget the café — tea made with your very own homemade chai tea concentrate will be your new chilly day companion. Fresh ginger, cardamom, star anise, and other warm, spicy spices are crushed to release their oils, then boiled together to make a concentrate that will create the best chai tea you've ever tasted. The special ingredient here is tulsi — also known as holy basil — which has a spicy, peppery, clove-like flavor. You can use your homemade concentrate to make hot tea, cold tea, or espresso drinks like dirty chai.
Tulsi Chai Concentrate [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
- 5 cups filtered water
- 1 ginger root roughly the size of your hand, peeled and chopped into large chunks
- 1 heaped tablespoon green cardamom pods
- 3-4 whole star anise
- 1/2 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1/2 tablespoon whole allspice
- Scant tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 4-5 cinnamon sticks
- 1/3 cup dried tulsi (holy basil)
- Add the water and ginger root to a pot and set it aside. Gently crush the remaining spices a bit with a mortar and pestle. They don’t need to be ground, but rather bruised enough to start releasing their oils. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can do the same thing in a bowl or sealable plastic bag with the butt end of a kitchen knife.
- Once you’ve crushed the whole spices a bit, add them to the pot with the water and ginger root.
- Set the pot on a burner over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, then remove it from the heat.
- Add the dried tulsi to the water and spices, then cover the pot with a lid. Allow the chai to steep for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, strain the chai through a sieve lined with a cheesecloth. Store the chai concentrate in a clean glass bottle in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you like ginger, you can leave a few chunks in bottle with the concentrate. Makes approximately 1 quart.
- To make a cup of chai, combine the concentrate with either water or your favorite milk at a 1:1 ratio. It can be served hot or iced. If you want an extra kick, add a shot of espresso for a dirty chai.